This study explored the lived experiences of Operational Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) service members with combatrelated posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms who had a companion animal postdeployment. Twelve OEF and OIF veterans participated in semi-structured interviews analyzed using Moustakas’ phenomenological approach. Four themes emerged: (a) rich descriptions of deployment events, (b) the experiences of returning from a deployment, (c) participants’ perceptions on their pets’ influence on posttraumatic stress symptoms, and (d) other comments and opinions related to participants’ experiences. These findings illuminate the experience of combat-related posttraumatic stress and the importance of animals in the therapeutic process and may aid development of alternative treatment options.
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